Restitution Recovery Program
The State Restitution Fund provides funding to assist victims of crime. California law requires every offender convicted of a felony or misdemeanor in California to pay a restitution fine. The court imposes a restitution order to cover actual crime-related expenses incurred by a victim.
The law requires restitution fines in every criminal case in which an adult offender is convicted of a crime, unless a judge finds compelling and extraordinary reasons the offender should not pay a fine. Fines for adults convicted of misdemeanors range from $150 to $1,000. Adults convicted of felonies must pay between $300 to $10,000. (Pen. Code § 1202.4, subd. (b)(1).)
State prison: When an adult offender is sentenced to state prison and receives a period of parole (frequently this is referred to as a “parole revocation fine”) the court imposes a fine in the same amount as the original restitution fine but is suspended unless the offender’s parole status is revoked. (Pen. Code § 1202.45.)
County level cases: When an adult offender receives a sentence at county jail and/or a period of probation a trial court shall impose an additional restitution fine (frequently this is referred to as a “probation revocation restitution fine”). This fine is imposed in the same amount as the original restitution fine but is suspended unless the offender’s probation status is revoked. (Pen. Code § 1202.44.)
Diversion restitution fee: The court imposes a mandatory “diversion restitution fee” of $100 to $1,000 on all adults whose cases are diverted in lieu of conviction. (Pen. Code § 1001.90.)
Restitution fines are also mandatory in juvenile cases, unless a judge finds compelling and extraordinary reasons the offender should not pay a fine. Juvenile offenders convicted of misdemeanors pay up to $100. In a felony, juveniles must pay between $100 and $1,000. (Welf. & Inst. Code § 730.6, subd. (b).)
Anytime a crime victim suffers a loss, the offender should be ordered to pay restitution for that loss. A victim’s right to a criminal restitution order stems from Article I, section 28, subdivision (b) of the California Constitution.
Restitution orders are to be imposed for the full amount of a victim’s economic loss. If the amount of a victim’s loss is not known at the time of the offender’s sentencing, the restitution order shall later be determined at the direction of the court. (Pen. Code § 1202.4, subd. (f).)
Under Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f)(3)(H)), the court can order the offender to pay the victim for actual and reasonable attorney’s fees and other costs of collection accrued by a private entity on behalf of the victim.
Additionally, an offender has the right to a hearing to dispute the amount of restitution ordered by the judge. (Pen. Code § 1202.4, subd. (f)(1).)
Restitution orders are enforceable as if they were civil judgments. (Pen. Code § 1202.4, subd. (i).) However, there are no statutes of limitations. No need exists to convert restitution orders to civil judgments.
If a victim of crime has received financial assistance from CalVCB, the court may order the offender to repay the program via a restitution order pursuant to Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f).
The court can order the defendant to pay a victim for losses, even if the victim’s insurance company already reimbursed the victim for those losses. Under Penal Code section 1202.4, subdivision (f)(2), a restitution order is independent of insurance benefits. However, insurance policies may contain provisions for reimbursement from a victim should they recover from the defendant.
State and local penalty assessments are levied on every fine, other than restitution fines but including traffic offenses, imposed by the court system. The state penalty assessment is equal to 100% of the amount of the fine that is imposed, and a portion of the penalty assessments is assigned to the Restitution Fund after it is collected at the county level.